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May 28, 2011

Paul Casey

Ernie Els


ERNIE ELS: I think, you know, 17, the way it was today was a little easier, but again, the conditions aren't easy, let's put it that way. And you know, some of the flag positions today, coming downwind, where they have got to on 14, front left, 15 on the top right is just crazy to put the flag there.
Even 16 coming down the front and 17 on the right, it's almost like -- it's already difficult. The ball is running. The fairways are firm, and if you don't give the guy any room to hit his shot into, you're going to have a tough day.

Q. So some of the criticism you might get are not your fault because the flags are out of position.
ERNIE ELS: I feel especially this week, the wind is really blowing so you have to be careful how you set up the golf course. We have three or four different tees on each hole.
PAUL CASEY: An example would be 12 is a par 5 green, that's what it's designed to be, and the Tour are playing it as a par 4 this week. And I think Ernie would agree that it's a great par 5, but from where we are playing it this week, it's just too difficult. It gives you no breathing room and guys come in and get frustrated and lash out and say it's this or it's that.
But playing from that back tee, going into that green with long irons or fairway woods, the out of bounds is then in play. It's difficult. It's what you want for a par 5 but it's not a par 4 green, simple as that. The course setup is making guys lash out sometimes.
ERNIE ELS: On 12, we decided to play it as 4, but I stressed the point to the Tour when we did our visit, if you are going to have it as a 4, you have to hit 7- or 8-iron into that green. And this week, the guys have been hitting 3-, 4-, 5-irons into the green, and that green is not built for that kind of a shot for a par 4. For a 5, yes, you have a smaller, tougher green for a par 5, a short par 5. But unfortunately with the conditions, -- and I noticed today they put the tees up, but we are still not coming in the irons that we discussed.
Saying that, this golf course is in unbelievable shape. The greens, the putting surface are unbelievable. I don't think the guys will putt on better greens for the rest of the year.
I feel comfortable with the changes. The margin of error now is like you get at a major. If you miss a shot with a 7-iron, the ball is not going to hold the green. It's going to go into a bunker and you are going to have a difficult next shot. And that's what we wanted to have. We wanted to really test the player, but keep it fair.
But, saying that, with conditions like they are today, they could have really given us better flag positions. The flag positions coming down the stretch, I think a lot of guys are going to complain.

Q. Are you fully satisfied with 18 now?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think 18 is great. I mean, if you give half a chance, the guys are going for the green. Plenty of room to lay up, very reachable.
I'm 98 percent there. Maybe 15, the front right is a bit severe with the length of it. Guys must play now. This is not easy anymore, change of mind-set. This is a real golf course now. Forget about going 24-under par, it ain't happening.
It is a better course. It's a better test. This week, we have really tough conditions. But I mean, these greens are the worst greens of the whole year. So look at the positive side here. Now they are playing on unbelievable putting surfaces, you're getting one hell of a work out this week, two weeks before the U.S. Open, you know.
And another thing (laughing) while I'm going now, you have Quiros, the longest hitter in the world leading, and you have Donald and Manassero, who are position players. You've got any which way you want to play the course, it's not one-dimensional. You have to think, you have to play. Any player can play this thing if you're on your game. If you're not, you're going to be crying.

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